MINONK – Joe’s Pizza in Minonk has a new treat in store for Woodford County residents.
Cannoli’s by Rozana, 511 Oak. St. owned by Rozana Catarinicchia is this week’s pick for Food of the Week.
The Italian pastry business started in 2021, working with Joe’s Pizza, but quickly gained popularity as Catarinicchia began taking orders through social media. In his first year, he sold 20 cases and has since sold over 600 cases.
Joe’s Pizza was opened in 1985 by Joe Catarinicchia, Rosanna’s father, after coming to the United States from Sicily. He has been in business for nearly 40 years.
“I started watching my dad make dough as a little girl. I always thought it was so interesting to watch. … There was just something about that experience,” said Rozana Catarinicchia. “We were always in the restaurant business growing up, so I kind of wanted to make my mark.”
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He said he remembers how cannoli in Italy always made people happy, so he wanted to bring it to his small hometown. One of her fondest memories is making cannoli with her grandmother and aunt in Italy.
While Rozana Catarinicchia’s parents run the show at Joe’s, she runs the cannoli side of things. A cannoli usually consists of a fried pastry shell filled with creamy ricotta cheese and chocolate chips, topped with powdered sugar. The confectioner said that this sweet treat originated in the city of Palermo, about 15 minutes away from where his father grew up.
Rozana Catarinicchia’s goal is to work with as many local restaurants and businesses as possible to share her cannoli. He’s ramped up pop-up shops in the Bloomington-Normal area, including Pizza Payaa and Serendipity Mercantile, and he has another planned next month, custom cannoli until he sells out.
Alternatively, cannoli are available by pre-order for holidays or other special events, including weddings.
Rozana Catarinicchia said she usually gives customers two to three weeks before the holiday to place their orders, noting that cannoli is an expensive and tedious dessert to make. He said the Christmas orders took 46 hours to cook because they had to be so tender with the batter and the long frying process.
“I keep it pretty exclusive because it just adds urgency. You know, you don’t get them every day, and I think people love that,” he said. Where will “they” Roseanne be next? I also love that part of it because it’s a lot of fun and I get to meet more people.”
Every holiday, Rozana Catarinicchia chooses a new flavor. Last Christmas, for example, he introduced peppermint crust, which he said is not a traditional flavor for cannoli. For Valentine’s Day, it offered a strawberry flavor, though pre-orders have already closed. Catarinicchia plans to offer a special “sprinkle” flavor for Easter.
She’s also made cannoli cups that look like mini pies, which she says remind her of Kinder chocolate.
When orders are ready, Rozana Catarinicchia said there’s often a line out the door for pickup, which can slow down the Joe’s pizza side.
“I really believe it’s an experience because I do it in my pizza shop and it’s old school — you have to come here and talk to me … and I actually serve you your cannolis,” he said. “Although the product, like I said, I personally think it’s amazing, I think it’s just the experience of just walking in, being able to talk for a minute … paying cash, … right there.”
While Rozana does not plan to open a separate store for her cannoli business, she plans to obtain a wholesale license and continue working with other businesses.
He said he may eventually add a small shop inside the pizza restaurant.
“My favorite part is the excitement. Because I know I have these big orders and when I’m done, I think that’s my favorite part, seeing how much I’ve grown.” “It surprises me because you start so small and you work so hard. I try to keep changing it… because I’m creative. That’s what I love to do: create and try new things.”
Contact Olivia Jacobs at 309-820-3352. Follow Olivia on Twitter: @olivia___jacobs